What is a Research Passport?

What is a Research Passport?

A Research Passport is an application form that a researcher, not employed by an NHS organisation, completes to inform an NHS Trust of the research activity that is intended to be conducted within an individual Trust.

The information confirmed in the application form enables Trusts to have confidence that the process to carry out criminal record and other checks for an honorary researcher is in line with NHS Employment Check Standards.

What are pre-engagement checks?

The Research Passport application process, delegated to the R&D office, ensures that the process of handling HR arrangements for researchers requiring access to an NHS Trust receives a streamlined approach for confirming that the researcher’s pre-engagement checks have been fully completed by the researcher’s employer.  If the research activity indicates that additional pre-engagement checks are required such as a Disclosure and Barring Service check then this will need to be completed by the researcher or their employer before access to the Trust can be agreed.

How long are Research Passports valid for?

A Research Passport application form is valid up to a maximum of 3 years.  At the end of the 3 year period a new application will need to be applied for if the research is still ongoing. Please note it is a Trust requirement that a DBS certificate will only be valid for 3 years and must be renewed after this period if the researcher wishes to continue with the research activity at the Trust.

It is important to be aware that the issuing of access to the Trust for a 3 year period is dependent on a contract of employment being in place for this same period of time and also on the research project in question running for this period of time.

Application forms can be completed for a specific study, or can cover a number of studies. They are valid for a maximum period of 3 years.  If more studies are to be included an appendix will need to be completed.

How do I obtain a Research Passport?

You will need to complete the Research Passport application form (Sections 1-6) in collaboration with your substantive employer and organise any required supporting documentation.

You should provide a hard copy of the completed form and supporting documents* to the NHS site where the research will take place. If this is Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust you should contact the one of the research team at the earliest opportunity on the following email address: research@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk

The R&D Team will identify what pre-engagement checks and what supporting documents are required in order to process your application.

Please note that the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Code of Practice prohibits the photocopying of DBS check documents. You will need to bring the original which we will check and return to you. Please do not send this document by email or any other documents by email as we are unable to process them via this route.

The application form will enable an NHS Trust to issue a Letter of Access or an Honorary Research Contract to an individual researcher once all appropriate pre-engagement checks have been carried out.

An honorary research contract or a letter of access is issued, depending on the nature of the research being undertaken and the role of the applicant within the research team.

Your completed Research Passport and the original documents will be returned to you. This set of documents will be required in order to gain access to other trusts.

*Supporting documents:

DBS Certificate (must be within 3 years of the issue date)

Signed and dated CV

Occupational Health Clearance (may be required)

If I have an NHS contract how should I access other Trusts?

If you have an NHS contract and wish to access another NHS Trust to conduct your research you should contact the HR department within your own Trust in the first instance and ask them to prepare an  NHS to NHS Proforma. This needs to be provided to the R&D office at the Trust where your research activity will take place.  The ‘other’ Trust’s R&D office will then issue you with appropriate access to their Trust for the purposes of conducting your research project.

What should I do if my research is multicentre?

If your research is multicentre you only need to complete one Research Passport application form. Once it is completed and validated by an NHS Trust you can then use it to obtain access to other NHS trusts by contacting their R&D or HR department.

Important information

It is the researcher’s responsibility to keep trusts informed of any changes, for example to your employment status, professional registration status, criminal record check etc.

Failure to do so may result in termination of your honorary research contract or letter of access. Additions or amendments to studies on a three year Research Passport need to be countersigned by all relevant R&D offices. Each amendment should have its own appendix page. R&D will take a copy of the amendment. You should also check whether the amendment / new study require any additional pre-engagement check or a change from a letter of access to an honorary research contract.

Access to CareNotes
If, as part of your research, you need to access the Trust’s CareNotes (electronic medical records system) you will need to complete this form and return to the R&D team via the following email address: research@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk

Page last reviewed: 20 March, 2024